The Kenya Dairy Board’s warning that milk prices will increase in the next two months due to limited production and depleted reserves of powder milk has come at the right time.
Already, the board has planned a meeting for November to review the situation and come up with interventions that should cushion the consumer from unusually high pricing while also giving the agency adequate time to negotiate for the best import rates instead of the knee-jerk reactions that are costly when funds have to be sourced to salvage the situation.
Indeed, the bulk of this year has witnessed rather bumpy markets for milk and maize, a case that forced the government into expensive subsidy programmes running into billions of shillings. The Treasury waived duty on powder milk imports to see processors ship in up to 9,000 tonnes, a window that closes end of year while the maize subsidy cost not less than Sh6 billion. This should not be repeated.
The National Cereals and Produce Board has warned that the rains will alter harvest dates and consequently interfere with deliveries to the NCPB reserves.
The two situations ought to be addressed at the right time so as not to plunge the country into a crisis like when a 500ml packet of fresh milk passed the Sh60 mark while a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour soared to more than Sh150 before it was tamed to Sh90.
These production cases threaten to repeat this year’s unfortunate shortages if the authorities fail to plan and execute the steps arrived at as meticulously as possible.